After an unimpressive 10 game road trip that ended with 4 consecutive losses, the Boston Red Sox happily returned home to the friendly confines of Fenway Park for their weekend interleague match up against the Milwaukee Brewers. Not only have the Sox excelled at home this season, but since 2006 they have dominated the National League. This success continued as the Sox used a balanced offensive attack to sweep away the Brewers in the three game series.
Friday night the rains fell in Boston, forcing the game to be postponed to Saturday. The extra day of rest helped the Sox refocus as they came out and captured the first game of the series 5-3 behind another solid pitching performance by Dice-K Matsuzaka. With the victory, Matsuzaka improves to 7-0 on the season and more importantly the Sox improve to 9-0 in games he has started. Many are starting to look at him as the staff ace, but he isn’t ready to accept the title just yet.
“I want to keep winning,” Matsuzaka said, grinning to an interpreter. “But I think Boston’s ace is Josh Beckett.”
Beckett started out the 2007 season with a 9-0 record before suffering his first loss.
Offensively in the first game, David Ortiz blasted a 3-run homerun in the 2nd inning that would give the Sox a 4-0 lead and all the runs they’d need to hold on for the victory. Jonathan Papelbon recorded his 12th save on the season, shutting the door in the 9th inning.
After Fenway Park was cleared and cleaned, the teams changed uniforms and came back out for the night cap doubleheader that featured a little bit of everything, but the end result was all that mattered in a Red Sox 7-6 victory.
Veteran knuckleballer Tim Wakefield hurled 5 1/3 innings allowing 3 runs on 6 hits while striking out 5 in the outing. He left the game with the lead but did not end up factoring into the decision because of some costly errors that led to unearned runs. The Sox made 3 errors on the night, which resulted in 3 unearned runs being scored in the 7th inning giving the Brewers a 6-5 lead at time.
The Sox immediately stuck back putting 2 runs up on the board in the bottom of the 7th, capitalizing on 2 errors by the Brewers infield. The only hit in the inning came on a single by Kevin Youkilis that knocked in the eventual game winning run, scored by Dustin Pedroia. Milwaukee made 4 errors total on the game.
Having pitched earlier in the day, closer Jonathan Papelbon was unavailable for the save so veteran reliever Mike Timlin was called upon to close it out. He recorded a perfect 9th inning, retiring all three batters on only 8 pitches for his first save on the season. Prior to the outing Timlin had not recorded a save since May 2nd 2007.
Game three of the series featured the long ball, and lots of them. Eight homeruns were blasted in the Red Sox 11-7 win, completing the sweep of the Brewers in their first trip to Fenway Park since 1993.
David Ortiz led the way for Boston, hitting two homeruns and knocking in 4 RBI’s on the afternoon giving him a season total of 10 HR’s and 37 RBI’s. Dustin Pedroia and Kevin Youkilis also added long balls, their 2nd and 9th respectively.
John Beckett was on the hill for the Sox going for win number 5 on the season. Although he did not very sharp, behind all the offensive firepower, he was able to hold off the Brewers bats just enough to pick up the victory. Beckett lasted 7 innings and allowed 6 runs on 6 hits, 4 of which were Milwaukee homeruns. He struck out 9 in the outing bringing his season strike-out total to 56, 5th best in the AL.
Milwaukee was led by Ryan Braun who hit two homeruns on the afternoon and now has 13 on the season. J.J. Hardy and Prince Fielder also homered off of Beckett, who allowed 4 HR’s only for the 2nd time in a game in his career. The previous outing came against the Toronto Blue Jays back on May 30th of 2006.
Since 2006, the Red Sox are now 18-3 against the National League in interleague play at Fenway Park and 31-8 overall. That is not counting the 4 consecutive World Series wins against the Colorado Rockies in their 2007 championship campaign.
The Sox will now welcome the Kansas City Royals into town for a 4-game series. Kansas City currently hold a 21-22 record and is tied for 3rd in the AL Central, but only 2 games out of first place in the division. The teams spilt their 6 games last season, each winning two of three at their home field.
Tonight’s starting match up features Jon Lester vs. Luke Hochevar. Both have similar stats, Lester at 2-2 with a 3.95 ERA on the season and Hochevar at 3-2 with a 3.94 ERA.
Tickets are still available for the remainder of the homestand!